I understand that it’s something of a tradition at Generation to begin your advisory board meetings with a simple question – a question Ralph Waldo Emerson used to ask old friends when greeting them after a long while: “What has become clear to you since last we met?” Although not old friends, I look forward to becoming even better friends. And I’m grateful that you’ve afforded me this opportunity to explain just “what has become clear” to us at the Rockefeller Foundation: that innovation has never been more crucial.
During the last few years, my colleagues and I have asked ourselves how best to foster innovation not only in the work we support, but also in the way we work. That’s why we’re so excited about the innovation I’ve been invited to discuss today: the emerging field of impact investing. The Rockefeller Foundation, with wonderful partners like David Blood and Generation, is helping to shepherd impact investing’s progression from an uncoordinated field to a mature industry – an industry that can give lift and leverage to traditional philanthropy.
Perhaps the best place to start the story is at our beginning, in 1913. This was the year in which John D. Rockefeller, Sr., established the Foundation that still bears his name and institutionalized an innovation of his own: Systemic giving that would, in his words, “push the pace of human progress.”